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November 17, 2010

Frank Spaziani

COACH SPAZIANI: We're looking forward to getting home after a couple of weeks on the road and playing a Virginia football team. With that, any questions?

Q. Could you talk about your relationship with Mike London? How far back it goes, are there any other connection with your staff guys with Mike?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, Mike and I go back, obviously, the first couple of years here at Virginia. He was coaching the defensive line and I was coaching the running backs. Then I became the coordinator, and he was coaching the defensive line. So we've been together for a few years and we've stayed in contact.

Q. I had forgotten that you were a running backs coach. That seems for a guy who spent his career on the defensive line, seems kind of an unusual job, be that as it may?
COACH SPAZIANI: I started out as offensive line at Navy. I'm well-rounded though (laughing).

Q. Of course. How much does the bowl eligibility thing, the fact that you've had so many straight years of going to bowls and that kind of tradition that you established, do players are they aware of that? How much does it really mean to a program?
COACH SPAZIANI: First of all, I think the players are aware of it. We're all aware of it. As we play out in August our goals or aspirations for what we want to do, that certainly is one of them. Getting six wins and becoming bowl eligible and going to a bowl. It's certainly not the pinnacle of what we were aspiring to do. So the players are aware of it.
Then I think once any time you have a positive tradition, it's certainly something that takes a while, obviously, by definition to build. It means something. Sure it does.

Q. When your team was caught up in that five-game losing streak earlier in the season, and now you've clawed your way back to this point, was that something that may have seemed out of reach? Have you guys been able to get back to this point?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, I think we played Coach Morrow's press conference when they asked him about the playoffs. I thought we were just trying to get number three. Then when we got number three, we were trying to get number four and just trying to get number five.
Now all we're trying to do, right, so I put it in perspective, is trying to get number six. It just happens that six has a little extra reward to it, that's all. It's no different than any other games in that it has a little more significance in the bowl picture.

Q. Looking at your season, you've had the three-game winning streak and that would seem to be a turning point. But how about that game at Florida State when you had been beaten pretty badly the three previous games? Was that any kind of turning point for you?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, no. Once again, it's the same thing. Beaten badly, not beaten badly, I don't know. Those are all relative terms. We just don't get caught up in that.
What we're trying to do is we understand winning minimizes your problems, losing maximizes them. The problems are always there, and we know what problems we have and things we have to overcome. All we've ever done is strive to get better as the year goes. Fortunately, we've been able to string a couple of victories together.

Q. What are one or two things that have made the difference?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, we've tightened up a little bit on our defense. We've played a little bit better defense for a lot of reasons. Certainly the guys on offense have gotten a little continuity.
Up until a couple weeks ago we had a couple weeks where our offensive line was intact and practicing. I think they had two weeks of the same five guys that were out there. That's disappeared again.
But that's helped. The quarterback has gained some experience. Got a lot of young players. They've got a lot of young experience. Don't have enough time for me to go through all of it.

Q. Were you always going to play the freshmen this year, the freshman quarterback?
COACH SPAZIANI: Were we always going to play him? We had our options open how it would materialize. We obviously made a conscious decision to put him on the depth chart and see where it went.

Q. I wanted to ask you about last week. The difference in the game was your red zone defense. They've had a very effective red zone package with Connette and running the ball. You all seemed very well prepared for that. What did you do to stop that so well?
COACH SPAZIANI: First of all, the coaches did a great job over there on defense and the players responded. We made a conscious effort. We understand what the team's strengths are and we made a conscious effort to try and do the best we can to help ourselves out and it worked out for us. It worked out to our advantage.

Q. How big a role did Luke play in that? He had a career high tackles, I think. He seemed to be in on most of those plays?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well let me say this, I think that we had 70 plays on defense, and he had 20 tackles. He played a major role certainly. Luke is getting the superlatives, but there just aren't enough of them to talk about what he's contributed to us and what kind of football player he is. He certainly is maturing and he had a very big game against Duke.

Q. Does Montel Harris get his due nationally do you feel?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, once again, Montel Harris is a very good football player. I think people recognize that. And whether they recognize it in different parts of the country, I certainly don't know that.
I know this: We're very happy to have him. He's a very good football player, and he's got a long future ahead of him still here. We're looking forward to seeing what he does this Saturday to start out with.

End of FastScripts

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